Judges Call Conferences over Taxotere Cancer Drug that Causes Permanent Hair Loss

taxotere2A case management conference is scheduled for June 30, 2016, in US District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland, in a product liability case against Sanofi S.A., charging that the Taxotere breast cancer drug causes unexpected, permanent and disfiguring hair loss in women.

Although hair loss is a common temporary side effect of chemotherapy drugs, permanent alopecia is not. Cases are proliferating that the Taxotere cancer drug causes permanent hair loss. Sanofi S.A. is a French multinational pharmaceutical company and as of 2013 is the world’s fifth-largest by prescription sales.

The California case is Ami Dodson v. Sanofi S.A, Case 4:16-cv-01251-PJH. US District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton ordered that lead counsel shall confer and file a joint case management statement addressing jurisdiction and service, facts, legal issues, motions, amendment of pleadings and evidence preservation.

  • Defendant Sanofi S.A. is a corporation or Société Anonyme organized and existing under the laws of France, having its principal place of business in Paris, France.
  • Defendant Aventis Pharma S.A. is a corporation or Société Anonyme, having its principal place of business in Antony, France.
  • Defendant Sanofi-Aventis U.S. LLC has its principal place of business in Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807.

(In another case, Magistrate Judge Michael Watanabe has also scheduled a planning conference on June 30 in US District Court in Denver, Colorado. That case is Melissa Leith v. Sanofi, Case No. 16-cv-00741-MJW.)

Disfiguring permanent alopecia

Following a March 3rd, 2010 left breast biopsy, Dodson met with her oncologist to discuss further treatment. Neither she nor her treating healthcare providers were aware of or informed by defendants that disfiguring permanent alopecia can occur following treatment with Taxotere. Accordingly, she  underwent chemotherapy that included Taxotere. Following the completion of chemotherapy, Dodson suffered from disfiguring permanent alopecia as a result of receiving chemotherapy with Taxotere.

A study published in 2008 in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that Taxol (paclitaxel) was more effective than Taxotere (docetaxel) for patients undergoing standard adjuvant chemotherapy with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide. Despite the publication of these studies, Defendants continued to make false and misleading statements promoting the “superior efficacy” of Taxotere over the competing product paclitaxel Taxol.

Defendants’ statements in a “reprint carrier” marketing the conclusions of the 2005 JCO study were false and misleading in light of the 2007 and 2008 studies finding that Taxotere was not more effective than paclitaxel in the treatment of breast cancer. As a result of these false and misleading statements, in 2009, the FDA issued a warning letter to Sanofi-Aventis (the same company as Defendant Sanofi S.A. before SanofiAventis changed its name in 2011).

Defendants knew or should have known that the rate of permanent alopecia related to Taxotere was far greater than with other products available to treat the same condition as Defendants’ product. Permanent baldness (permanent alopecia) is a disfiguring condition, especially for women. Women who experienced disfiguring permanent alopecia as a result of the use of Taxotere suffer great mental anguish as well as economic damages, including but not limited to loss of work or inability to work due to significant psychological damage.

Larry Bodine

Attorney Larry Bodine is Editor of Mass Tort Nexus, and the Editor of The National Trial Lawyers. He is the former Editor in Chief of Lawyers.com and the American Bar Association Journal. He is a cum laude graduate of both Seton Hall University Law School and Amherst College.

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